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Vice President Joe Biden donates $50K to Pennsylvania women's abuse advocacy groups

Vice President Joe Biden donated $50,000 to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Philadelphia-based Women Against Abuse Tuesday, a month after winning the money at Pennsylvania's biggest annual political gathering.

The Pennsylvania Society during its 115th annual black-tie dinner last month presented Biden with the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. The award, which recognizes the leadership and philanthropic accomplishments of prominent figures with Pennsylvania ties, comes with a $50,000 contribution to be directed to charities of the recipient's choice.

Biden responded to the honor with a half-hour acceptance speech during which he referenced his Scranton roots, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"It wasn't just my character that was etched in Pennsylvania. It was my political career," Biden said before pledging to donate the prize money to charities combating domestic violence.

The two selected nonprofits will use the money to increase advocacy and awareness efforts and support intervention for victims of domestic violence, which they described as a public health epidemic that affects one in three women and one in seven men worldwide.

"Vice President Biden has dedicated his career to bringing awareness to domestic violence and ensuring victims and their children receive the resources they need to escape abuse and achieve safety," Women Against Abuse executive director Jeannine Lisitski said in a statement. "And that is the standard Women Against Abuse strives to achieve through its work each day."

Biden has long been a staunch anti-abuse advocate. As a U.S. Senator, he drafted the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which provides funding for the investigation and prosecution of violent domestic crimes and mandates automatic minimum penalties for those convicted of such offenses. Biden last year led a push for the law's reauthorization, which some conservatives opposed due to the extension of the Act's protections to same-sex couples.

"This landmark legislation, whose 20th anniversary is being commemorated this year by PCADV and the commonwealth's eight law schools, has not only protected victims of domestic violence, but saved countless lives over the past two decades," Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence executive director Peg Dierkers said.

As Vice President, Biden appointed the White House's first Advisor on Violence Against Women and launched the "1is2many" initiative. an outreach campaign that uses technology to reduce date rape and domestic violence among teens and college students.

Biden was the first sitting vice president chosen to receive the Pennsylvania Society's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement. Past recipients have included Andrew Carnegie, Dwight Eisenhower and Bill Cosby. 

The nonpartisan nonprofit bills itself as "a patriotic and charitable organization" founded in 1899 to unite prominent Pennsylvanians and honor their achievements. The Society has since has evolved into a society of political power brokers with more than 2,000 members. About 1,600 of those members attended December's black-tie gala held in the ballroom of New York City's Waldorf Astoria. The dinner each year serves as the culmination of a weekend-long series of see-and-be-seen political fundraisers, receptions and events.